March 3, 2008
Eighty Years in Austin

It was a gusty, bouncy, blustery, put-them-up, crash them, untangle them, launch-them-again day in Austin.

Winds were swirling and the sky was overcast with dark patches. In fact, we had warnings of an approaching storm front. But that didn’t keep the crowds from coming out.

Flying High

It is hard to describe the scene in the huge urban park. There are people everywhere and thousands of kites being flown. Five different retail stations supply them with Taco Bell style efficiency. You order a combo from a menu and move though the line.

Zilker Park

This was our tenth trip to Zilker Park. That means we missed the first seventy festivals there. That’s right – Zilker has been running a full eighty years and is now the longest running kite fest in America. And if an event has managed to run eighty years in a row, it has to be doing something right.

I particularly like the fact that people bring their kids out, just like their parents brought them a generation before.

Speaking of kids, meet Jonathan and Joshua. Susie first met them four years ago and they come back each year to enjoy the flying. Check them out in this earlier Update

Jon and Josh

GKPI coordinates one of the three primary fields. (The other two are for competition and for demonstrations.)

Barry and Karen Ogletree, Rich Hawkins, Daniel Rojhas, and Charlie Cullen all worked the field hard.

This group has flown together before so it didn’t matter whose kite was down – people quickly converged to try and get it back up again.

We carried plenty of gear but most of it stayed in the bags.

Kite Bags

“When does the big kite show start??” people kept asking. But it just wasn’t safe to fly them. Anything we put up risked damage or could pull loose and hurt someone.

We flew our smaller 20 foot fish for the first time. For a comparison, we put it next to the 30 foot version. So now the larger one has several stress tears. Should be an easy fix. If you’d like to give it a try, we’ll take $250 off the price.

Giant Devil Fish Devil and Opera Mask

We pulled out the Giant Red Devil but had trouble keeping him off the ground. We also tried the mid-sized Devil and Opera Mask.

Contests continued throughout the day in traditional categories like smallest, largest, steadiest, most unusual, and highest angle. We enjoyed sport kite shows by fliers from around Texas. But sadly the announcer didn’t notice anything that wasn’t right in front of him, so never mentioned the show kite field or the good efforts of the Ogletrees, Charlie, Rich, or Daniel who had been performing all day rather than just in ten minute bursts.

Caterpillars bounced and gyrated and actually were successful.

It wasn’t uncommon to see one standing straight up in the turbulence while the other two pulled in different directions.

Caterpillars

Full Tree

Outside the relative safety of the marked fields, it was kite pandemonium.

Kids dragging kites across the ground, sport kites ripping through the wind, string everywhere, and trees decorated like Christmas all evidenced the fact that people were having good kite fun but with limited success.

The Texicans always go out of their way to make us feel welcome and appreciated. We enjoyed good food with friends, and because of the schedule, we actually got to sleep in one morning, linger over breakfast, and then enjoy the gardens surrounding the lovely Carriage House Inn. Relaxing! Wow!! We don't get to do that often!!

Zilker

Zilker is a remarkable gathering and we want to thank the Exchange Club who have organized it for eight decades, the sponsors, workers, and especially Bunnie and Dorsey Twidwell for their good work.

And if you ever visit Austin, we strongly recommend the Carriage House B&B

We’re flying home today. The storm that had been holding off dumped hard on the airport as we lifted off.

We’re in Oregon less than 24 hours and then fly out for a two-week program in Thailand and Guam. We won’t be able to ship until the 18th. But we’ll have a great Update for you next time. So check back soon!

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